Brain Drain In The Philippine Education

Developing nations are grappling with a phenomenon that started taking shape in the 1960s and in the 70s. A look at most countries in Asia indicates increased levels of influx towards the developed western nations. According to a report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Asia is losing billions of dollars in terms of brain drain as its highly skilled workforce and professionals are leaving their countries in droves towards the developed countries for a more rewarding pay. India has lost IT professionals renowned for their computing intelligence.

China too has lost people of expertise with almost two thirds of students studying abroad failing to return to their motherland. The list of countries suffering from brain drain runs long, the causes are deep-seated and the implications are inadvertently detrimental to the nation’s economies. Of special concern in this paper is the case of Philippines whose education sector has had adverse effects due to the increased rate of brain drain amongst teachers. A look at the pattern of labor movement from Philippines to other nations reveals that it has undergone interesting metamorphosis with progressive adverse effects on the economy.

Brain drain is a phenomenon that started in the early seventies though not in large droves experienced today. Before then however as Florian and Danilo (2003) note, ‘the movement of highly skilled Filipino professionals though significant was principally a private initiative among workers and their placement abroad. ” In the early seventies and the 80s, majority of the Philippines were heading to the Middle East at a mere number of 36, 035 in 1975. This figure however would rise significantly to 214,590 in 1980 and to over 791 000 contract workers in 1998 (Florian & Danilo, 2003).

The influx of teachers abroad is as a resultant effect of the push and pull factors between the immigration and the emigration countries. These push factors may range from lack of employment opportunities as well as the pursuit of a better life and career progression. The unemployment rate in the recent years has ranged between 7 and 11 % and has been the force behind the massive brain drain. Philippines economy is based on a rocky foundation fuelled by agriculture, remittances from abroad and industries that are still in their formative stage. Unemployment is rife and the influx experienced is in the bid to escape this.

Philippines economy possesses a limited capacity to absorb less than a million people in terms of employment. This is a small number compared to the high number of graduates and semi skilled personnel it is producing annually. The prospects of employment in foreign lands are a comforting respite to many. A look at the recent educational trends reveals that the country pool of trained professionals and graduates has been on the rise. The country produced over three million graduates in the 90s ranging from different professions although the bulk of this was in the business related courses.

A significant proportion of this comprised of teachers which has been of the most affected profession in terms of brain drain. According to the officials in the education sector, education in Philippines is undergoing a crisis as a direct consequence of brain drain. This is not a problem that affect schools at the formative level but according to J. Florendo B. , even the universities where “compensation packages and school environment are considered competitive enough by Philippines standards are not exempt from the lure of overseas employment.

” (2008) A look at the influx of teachers from Philippines reveals a worrisome trend. It is a clear indication of the situation on the ground. According to the figures released by the Philippine Overseas Employment Statistics, there were as few as 112 teachers that emigrated in search for greener pastures in 1992. This figure was however to increase rapidly in the coming ten years. J. Florendo B. L. notes that between 1992 and 2002 “2289 teachers were deployed abroad. ” A significant portion of this went to the United States at 45. 2 %.

These figures however refer to contract workers and fail to capture the total number of teachers that emigrated. According to the commission on Filipino overseas, there was “a total of 9,608 emigrant teachers from 1988 to 2001. ” (J. Florendo, 2008. ) Over 75% of these teachers moved to the United States. 20 % of all emigrants are trained teachers which leaves Philippines with no sources of teachers to replace those that are moving. Unemployment rates apart, the meager wage awarded to many even in lucrative professions is a lead cause to the emigration.

In private schools, teachers earn less than 400 us dollars while their counterparts in the public schools at an entry level take home close to 230 US dollars a month. This is a meager amount compared to over four thousand dollars a month in the United States (J. Florendo B. , 2008). The working conditions of the public schools have also exacerbated the need to search for greener pastures. Public schools in Philippine are in a sorry state, largely overcrowded and the inherent corruption across the bureaucracy hinders the emergence of any chance for career progression.

The inability of the Philippine’s economy to absorb trained graduate teachers in the public school has not helped either. Philippine produces over 30 thousand teachers at the elementary and secondary level but only a quarter of this number is a absorbed into the public schools. With the huge percentage increase in graduates, the government has only been able to increase its rate by a mere 1. 7 percent creating an oversupply in eligible teachers and hence the emigration Remuneration prospects apart, the proficiency of most Filipinos in English makes them attractive in overseas markets.

According to Robert et al “English continues to dominate the Philippines educational system. ” He also notes that English “language has been seriously cultivated for non literary academic purposes since the bilingual education policy of 1974. ” The fluency in English hence places Philippines professions at a higher competitive level compared to their counterparts across Asia. (1999) Brain drain across all the professions though it has had some positive contributions, is has adversely affected Philippines economy. The most affected is the education sector. Brain drain in the long run is detrimental to the economy in general.

As Michel et al (2001) notes, “migration of people endowed with a high level of human capital-the so called “brain drain” is detrimental for the country of emigration. ” This has been the case of Philippines especially in some of the selected sectors. Ronald Meinarchs points out clearly that “the more and better educated a people the greater the chances of economic development. ” Whereas Philippines may be producing professionals through its elaborate system of training and education, the bulk of this population is not directly beneficial to its economy as it immediately emigrates in search of jobs and greener pastures(2003).

As a fore mentioned, Philippines is grappling with an acute shortage of qualified and effective teachers. The best teachers in the sector have all fled the country towards the developed nations. This has led to a decline in the quality of education. It is to be noted that most of the teachers that emigrate to north America are the best in the market considering that recruitment standards in the United States are elaborate and require high credentials. High schools are the most affected as the teachers there have a mastery of what they teach.

It becomes hard for the department of education in Philippines to fill such posts with suitable replacements in a country where almost all professionals are on the run. It is important to note that there is an undeniable fact on the positive attributes of brain drain in Philippines especially the remittances that have contributed immensely to the economy. These remittances from abroad amount to over us $ 8. 5 billion annually which is almost 10 % of the whole Philippines GDP.

It is not however clear how much of this amount is from teachers that work in North America but it is apparent that their remittances are not channeled towards improving the quality of education at home. There are a number of steps that should be taken to address the detrimental impact of brain drain in the educational sector. While it is not possible to restrict the emigration of labor in this age of globalization, the government should lump teachers together with pilots terming them as possessing ‘critical skills. ” This will hence require them to work in the country for a certain period of time before they emigrate.

This will give the government ample time to train replacements. It is a major concern to note that Philippine, though brain drain subsidizes the developed countries’ cost of educating and training professionals. Philippine spends colossal amount of resources to nurture personnel only for them to emigrate at the nick of time. To improve education, the government should spend a considerable amount of the remittances to improve the education system as well as providing tax incentives to encourage remittances. References Robert B. Kaplan, Richard B. Baldauf, 1999.

Language Planning in Malawi, Mozambique and the Philippines. Multilingual Matters Jo. Florendo B. Lontoc, A May-June 2008. Situation on Philippine Education University of the Philippines. Volume 9 Number 3. http://www. up. edu. ph/upforum. php? i=94 Ronald Meinardus, June 30, 2003. The Crisis of Public Education in the Philippines Business World Internet Edition: http://www. fnf. org. ph/liberalopinion/crisis-public-education-philippines. htm Cecil Morella, April 23, 2005. Medical brain drain threat to Philippines The Standard. http://www. thestandard. com. hk/stdn/std/World/GD23Wd04. html

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